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The woman with every copy – ever – of the Camden New Journal

Dan Carrier talks to Angela Maguire, owner of the Vintage Magazine Company, who has offered this newspaper a copy of every issue it’s published

27 March, 2020 — By Dan Carrier

Angela Maguire leafs through back copies of the New Journal

WHEN the first ever edition of the Camden New Journal hit the streets back in 1982 – having been taken over by its reporters and had the word “New” appended to its title – people living in Camden Town were enthralled to see a community-led paper covering the issues that mattered to them arrive through their letterboxes every Thursday morning.

And for one couple, Danny Posner and Angela Maguire, it wasn’t just having a weekly newspaper bringing them all the news they wanted to hear from the streets they called home – it was a newspaper they wanted to add to their enormous collection of publications.

The couple, who lived in Arlington Road, owned the famous Vintage Magazine Company, a firm with two shops selling all manner of newspapers, magazines, comics and periodicals – and a warehouse in east London with groaning shelves, stacked with over a century of printed titles.

Now, a year and a half after Danny died aged 87, his widow Angela is having to split up the collection – and has generously offered to give the New Journal a copy of every single edition we have ever put out on the streets.

She said: “Our company was really about cataloguing social history from the turn of the last century. Danny was absolutely fascinated by how daily life was captured in publications like the CNJ – and he saw the value in saving them in printed form.”

The couple started the firm in 1978.

Angela recalls: “We moved into Arlington Road, Camden Town, in 1979, and I clearly remember when the CNJ first started coming through our door – I loved it.

The Vintage Magazine Company’s famous window art

“We all loved the Journal. We all wanted to know what was going on in our neighbourhood – it was always such a lovely, vibrant place and that is reflected in the newspaper. It shows what a really tight community we have.”

The couple felt every magazine, comic and newspaper had a historical value – and were fanatical collectors.

“The true, real social history is what happens every day and is reflected in things published for every section of our society, for everybody,” she says.

“The collection has everything from the Times Literary Supplement and the London Review of Books to Penthouse and Mayfair and everything in between.”

Danny developed a love for comics when he was a child, explains Angela. Born in the 1930s, a golden era for graphic storytelling, he never lost his passion for them.

“His mother couldn’t afford to buy him magazines or comics, so he would scavenge on dumps during the war, looking for discarded weeklies, hunting through skips and picking up magazines,” she says.

Brought up in St Ives, Cambridgeshire, Danny left school and worked for a time as a reporter for the Tottenham Journal. He then went into music PR, and was responsible for promoting bands such as Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

He had other passions – a keen snooker player, when the Camden Snooker Hall was facing closure in the 1990s, Danny tried to get together a consortium to buy it. On the day the owners needed a final offer to seal a deal, the other potential partners backed out – so Danny bought it alone.

Angela and her late partner, Danny

“It made him a hero,” recalls Angela. “He would walk down Camden High Street and people would doff their hats to him, shake his hand.”

The Vintage Magazine Store had branches in Camden High Street and another in Brewer Street, Soho. They ran the operation from an office in Greenland Place.

“We were a team,” she says. “We never felt like it was working for a living.

“It was so much fun, and so interesting. We had so many people come in and buy specialist titles from us.

“We once put a collection together for David Bowie, and we’d get fashion designers coming in to trawl through them. They used to ask us to sign non-disclosure agreements so no one knew where they’d got their apparently latest ideas from.”

The company has run its natural course in its current guise, says Angela.

“We kept going but it was really our vanity project in the end.

“While people were throwing these magazines on skips, we were collecting them, loving them, sorting them and caring for them, making them available.”

But the cost of looking after such a huge library began to tell – and now it is time for the collection to be dispersed.

“It has got very expensive,” explains Angela.

“It is from an analogue age. We have a 10,000ft storage space in Homerton, and the rateable value has gone up from £32,000 per year to £87,000.

“What is happening with the increased rents and rates is a sign of the times – it’s space that would be worth more as housing, just like other business areas here.”

So now she wants to find new homes for some of the parts of the collection she loves most – including her weekly copies of the New Journal.

“I was going round and looking at it all and thinking: I just can’t throw these treasures away.

“And we both loved Camden, loved its history. Since the Journal started, we looked forward to it every week. It is brilliant – always knowing what’s going on. We knew it was marvellous the moment we saw it – so we’ve collected every single edition, and saved the lot.”

• For more information visit vintagemagazinecompany.co.uk

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